Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Oldest-Known Evidence of Physical Child Abuse Found in Egypt

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

(Sandra Wheeler)ORLANDO, FLORIDA—The remains of a physically abused child have been uncovered in a 2,000-year-old cemetery in Egypt’s Western Desert. Bioarchaeologist Sandra Wheeler of the University of Central Florida found a pattern of fractures in different stages of healing, which are indicative of repeated abuse. In particular, two complete fractures on the same spots of the child’s upper arms suggest that someone had grabbed to two- or three-year-old and shaken him or her violently. More than 150 children were buried in a separate section of the Kellis 2 cemetery, which reflects Christian mortuary practices of the time, but this skeleton is the only one to show signs of repeated, non-accidental trauma.